Service announcement

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Consultation on our Discretionary Business Rates Relief schemes

In the Government's spring budget of 2017, the Chancellor announced £300 million of extra funding for local authorities to provide discretionary relief to businesses facing increases in their business rate bills following the general revaluation. 

The distribution of the central grant was based on the bill increases of properties given the criteria that their business rates bill increased by more than 12.5% following revaluation and their rateable value is less than £200k. The Government has placed a condition on their funding. This extra relief can only be offered to businesses that have seen their rates bills increase from April 2017 as a result of the revaluation.

Consultations

We carried out a public consultations in Lewes district and Eastbourne Borough from 18 August to 8 October 2017. We published the Business Rate Revaluation Support Policies on the councils' websites which included the background, reasons for the proposals and details of the scheme design.

We provided an online survey which asked questions on the principles of the scheme. We made paper copies of the policy and survey questions available on request. We also offered this information in different languages and formats.

We publicised the consultation through local media by sending a press release which resulted in local press coverage (the Sussex Express). We alerted our consultation mailing list by sending an email alert on the day the consultation launched and a reminder message one week prior to the consultation closing. We also emailed the consultation information to all rate payers that we hold email addresses for. We promoted the consultation through our social media channels throughout the consultation period to encourage further participation. We also send the consultation information to partner organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses and the Chambers of Commerce with a request both to participate in the consultation and to share the consultation with their membership. Major preceptors were emailed a copy of the scheme and invited to make comments.

Key findings

  • 35 responses were received in total: 25 from individuals, 5 from local businesses, 2 from local charities, 1 from a parish council and 1 from a local sailing club.

  • 76.5% of respondents agreed that the rate relief should be available to ratepayers with a rateable value up to £200,000.

  • 97% of respondents agreed that the relief should only be available to local businesses.

  • 85% of respondents agreed that the relief available should be based on the increase between the ratepayer's 2016/17 and 2017/18 bill. 

  • 79% of respondents agreed that the relief should only be available on occupied premises.

  • 79% of respondents agreed that ratepayers in arrears should not be eligible for support (unless it can be demonstrated that the arrears were accrued as a direct impact of the revaluation).

  • 55% of respondents agreed that the relief should only be available on certain types of business, as detailed in the policy. 30% of respondents disagreed with this.

  • Over all 85% of respondents agreed with the policy. No respondents disagreed. 15% said they didn't not know.

  • Major precepting authorities felt that the scheme was consistent with others adopted nationally and confirmed their support.

Next steps

Consultation feedback was considered by the Director of Service Delivery, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources and a the decision was made to recommend that the policy be approved by Cabinet.

On 13 November 2017 it was decided at Cabinet that:

  • That the Discretionary Business Rate Revaluation Support Policy be approved.

  • That the Director of Service Delivery, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources be granted delegated authority, to review and, if necessary, amend the Business Rate Revaluation Support Policy at the end of March 2018 and each subsequent year during the operation of the scheme.

Key findings

  • 27 responses were received in total: 5 from individuals, 20 from local businesses and one from a local charity.

  • 73% of respondents agreed that relief should be available to ratepayers with a rateable value up to £200,000 .   

  • 81% of respondents agreed that rate relief should only be available to local businesses. 18.5% of respondents disagreed with this. 

  • 72% of respondents agreed that the rate relief available should be based on the increase between the ratepayer's 2016/17 and 2017/18 bill. 23% of respondents disagreed with this.

  • 78% of respondents agreed that the rate relief should only be available on occupied premises

  • 89% of respondents agreed that ratepayers in arrears should not be eligible for support (unless it can be demonstrated that the arrears were accrued as a direct impact of the revaluation).

  • 67% of respondents agreed that the relief should only be available on certain types of business, as detailed in the policy. 22% of respondents disagreed with this.

  • Over all 59% of respondents agreed with the policy while 25% did not.   

  • Major precepting authorities felt that the scheme was consistent with others adopted nationally and confirmed their support.      

Next steps

Consultation feedback was considered by the Director of Service Delivery, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources and a the decision was made to recommend that the policy be approved by Cabinet.

At the meeting of Cabinet held on Wednesday 16 October 2017 it was decided that: 

  • That the Discretionary Business Rate Revaluation Support Policy be approved.

  • That the Director of Service Delivery, in consultation with the Lead Cabinet Member for Community be granted delegated authority, to review and, if necessary, amend the Business Rate Revaluation Support Policy at the end of March 2018 and each subsequent year during the operation of the scheme.